The Ministry of Interior has announced that the authentication of residence books and family books will now fall under the purview of the commune instead of district administrations.

A ministry press release entitled Transferring of the police chiefs in providing residence and family books dated July 1 said the announcement aimed to define the transferring of authority in the management of residence books and family books to make it easier and quicker for citizens to list their home addresses and family members.

The press release said the transfer of management covers the provision of family books, making duplicates of residence book, certifying residence letters, documenting new family members, confirming residential relocation and making data adjustments in the residence lists in line with the law.

The decision was made under the guidance of the General Department of Identification.

The press release said a new announcement will be made in the future to clarify guidelines for the new system.

The ministry’s General Department of Identification director-general Kang Sokhorn could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Advocacy and Policy Institute (API) director Lam Socheat on Thursday supported the move, saying the transfer of duties would bring public services closer to residents and reduce complexities.

He said he encouraged all commune police officials to pay attention to their work and abide by the laws and guidelines set by the ministry to avoid any irregularities.

“Services, functions and authorities will be moved from the top level to a more local level. The closer the authorities are to the people, the better it is.

“However, I am unsure how the sub-level officials will perform their work according to legal standards. We are concerned about forgery and collusion with immigrants in the documents. So, the top-level officials should heed this point seriously,” he said.

Kampong Chhnang province’s Krang Skear commune police chief Khuon Khorn said on Thursday that he had yet to see the ministry’s announcement.

Previously, if residents wanted to make residence books or family books, they had to endure a two-step process during which they would first apply to the village or commune chiefs before their applications were sent to district police stations for final approval.

Khorn said the timeframe to create or edit residence and family books will be between three days to over a week depending on the police’s workload.

“I think if the ministry leaves the tasks to the commune police stations, our citizens will not spend any more time waiting than they did before. Previously, we had to wait for a week or more and our police station officials had to deliver the family books or residence books directly to the citizens,” he said.

A 1997 government sub-decree stipulated that family books were to be used to certify family members.

Every Khmer family living in Cambodia has to have a family book, while foreigners are not allowed to have them. Anyone who committed forgery or acted against the sub-decree is liable to face legal repercussions.